Sheriff vs Partizan ordered to be played with no fans over coup fears

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The Moldovan Football Federation have confirmed Thursday’s Europa Conference League clash between Sheriff Tiraspol and Partizan Belgrade will be played behind closed doors due to national security concerns. Both clubs announced that they were instructed by the Moldovan FA on the order of the Security Service of Moldova.

The Moldovan air space was temporarily closed on Tuesday amid growing tensions between the former Soviet state and Russia.

Moldovan president Maia Sandu accused Russia of plotting a coup d’etat and planning attacks on government buildings after receiving EU candidate status last year.

Sandu told journalists that Moscow’s alleged plan against Moldova would involve “saboteurs with military background, camouflaged in civilian clothes, to undertake violent actions, attacks on state institutions and taking hostages”.

And those concerns have now led to Thursday night’s Europa Conference League match between Sheriff and Partizan being played behind closed doors.

Partizan pleaded with fans not to attempt to travel to Moldova after being informed the match would be played behind closed doors.

“In this regard, FK Partizan, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, undertakes all security measures for the good stay of the team and the club representatives in Moldova. We inform all Partizan supporters that it is not possible to enter Moldova, as well as to attend the match, and please do not travel,” the Serbian club said.

A group of Partizan fans who flew into Moldova on Monday for Thursday’s were reportedly immediately deported and were also supposedly made to pay for the return tickets out of their own money.

The Moldovan border police claimed the Partizan Belgrade fans didn’t supply a justification for their visit.

“The persons could not justify the purpose of their trip to the Republic of Moldova, not having the necessary documents in this regard,” the press officer said.

The nation’s security forces had sent a letter to the Moldovan FA with the words “very urgent” written in bold at the top of the document.

It read: “Hereby we must let you know that today in the morning, the Football Association of Moldova (FA of Moldova) has received a letter from the Security and Intelligence Service of Moldova, one of the agencies that ensures the security of the Republic of Moldova.

“According to the information mentioned in this letter, there is a real danger to the statehood of the Republic of Moldova and in order to avoid this, the Security Services insist that the above match Sheriff Tiraspol vs Partizan Belgrade is played behind closed doors.

“Taking the above into consideration, we kindly ask you to take the following actions as soon as possible:

“1. To inform Partizan Belgrade about the implemented security measures, as well as the holding of the match behind closed doors.

“2. To identify the maximum correct solution regarding the supporters which already bought match tickets for this match.

“3. To send to the FA of Moldova the list of Partizan Belgrade official team delegation, in order to coordinate it with government agencies of the Republic of Moldova.

“4. To send to the FA of Moldova the list of media representatives from the opponent club (in case there is such a request), in order to coordinate it with government agencies of the Republic of Moldova.

“5. To take the necessary actions in order to ensure maximum possible security for the organisation of the match.”

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